MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology


Can you copyright a tweet? | Technollama |

Fox v Dish lays some Aereo concerns to rest. | DisCo Project |

Information is power: a revolution for the blind. | Australian Digital Alliance |

Updating operating system now: where’s our fair use? | Lib Copyright |

Fair copyright policy starts with transparency. | Australian Digital Alliance |
Defamation, freedom of expression & media law

Companies suing critics. That’s the real enemy of free speech. | The Guardian |

Journalism is not a crime. So why are reporters being referred to police? | The Guardian |

UK: Every national newspaper editor urges Prime Minister to stop RIPA spying on journalists. | Press Gazette |

Southern Cross TV breached privacy by filming through window for Today Tonight report. | Mumbrella |

LNP politicians target Alan Jones | Daily Mail Australia |

Privacy & information security

Tech giants fear being captured by data retention legislation. | ZDNet |

Charlie Hebdo and the security state: Julia Powles. | Wired |

Border protection plans to extend telco surveillance. | ZDNet |

Scrap data retention bill: Law Institute of Victoria. | Pro Bono News |

Victoria’s Privacy Commissioner  hits out at “ill-defined” data retention plans. | AFR |  (See submission no. 39 ->

OAIC’s new Guide to securing personal information. | OAIC | 

129 submissions on Australia’s controversial Data Retention Bill: Public hearings on 29 & 30 January.

Aussie Travel Cover has hundreds of thousands of records stolen in hacking, policy holders not informed. | ABC |

Thai PM vows to pass cyber spying bill. | Telecomasia |

UK: Abuse of Parliamentary procedure: introducing the Comms Data Bill into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. | Open Rights Group  |

How Netflix wants to end geo-blocking. | ZDNet |

How to catch a terrorist? The Whole Haystack. | The New Yorker |

‘The Cloud’ and other dangerous metaphors. | The Atlantic |

US: Cops get handheld radar that can “detect people breathing” through walls. | Ars Technica |

Silk Road Judge: Tor browser is ‘mumbo jumbo to most people on the jury right now’. | Forbes |

High stakes in New Zealand’s war against spam. | The New Zealand Herald |

The Coweb – can the Internet be archived? | The New Yorker |

Social media

Snapchat hiring journalists to become its own publisher. | GigaOm |

Online retailers and media companies least trusted with personal information. | Mumbrella |

Concerns about power and influence of social media on Royal Commission. | ABC AM |

Gillette pays Tinder for catchy research, not advertising. | AdAge |

NSW Police fail victims of domestic violence with flippant social media post. | Daily Mail |

US: Justice Department settles lawsuit over fake Facebook page. | Buzzfeed |


24 January 2015

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology


‘Dallas Buyers Club’ producer Nicolas Chartier on his anti-piracy crusade & why union workers need less pay. | The Hollywood Reporter |  

Is the MPAA even pro-Hollywood any more? | The Medium |

Piracy notices boost demand for anonymous VPNs in Canada. | Torrentfreak |

Authors Guild gives up trying to sue libraries for digital scanning book collection. | Techdirt |

U.S strikes scheme fails to impact the piracy landscape. | Torrentfreak |

Where to for copyright in 2015? Program for the ADA Forum announced: Canberra, 13 February 2015

Defamation, freedom of expression & media law

Democracy dies behind closed doors. | Open and Shut |

US: Court orders Twitter to identify anonymous users. | Internet Cases |

Max Mosley begins court action to stop Google showing pictures of sex party. | The Guardian |

Stalin’s grandson loses ‘bloodthirsty cannibal’ defamation lawsuit. | The Telegraph |

Privacy & information security

BBC uses “metadata” access laws to catch TV licence fee dodgers. | Belfast Telegraph |

UK: Prime minister asked to intervene to help protect journalists’ phones and communications records. | The Guardian |

The curious case of Angela Merkel and her EU data retention ideas. | GigaOm |

Brandis takes the data retention debate beyond logic. | ZDNet |

Victoria Police access phone and internet data 1200 a week. | The Age |

Dutch government sued over data retention law. | ComputerWorld |

A reminder … Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide, by Daniel Solove. | The Chronicle of Higher Education |

Parliamentary Committee calls for contributions to data retention inquiry.  | APH |  Submissions due  Monday 19 January.

The Digital Arms Race: NSA preps America for future battle. | Spiegel |

Why Zomato paid $60 million for Urbanspoon. | Smart Company |

India and #GoIBlocks: Lessons for ISPs when facing censorship orders. | Global Voices |

The DHS agent who infiltrated Silk Road to take down its kingpin. | Forbes | 

Social media

Lawyers use Facebook to target people busted at festivals for drugs. | Mashable  |

Turkey threatens to block social media over released documents. | New York Times |

How a team of social media experts is able to keep track of UK jihadists. | The Guardian |

Technology has made life different, but not necessarily more stressful. | New York Times |

18  January 2015

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology

Tech + law policy to-read list – suggestions welcome!

Here’s some of the books I’m planning to read this year.

Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin

It’s Complicated by danah boyd

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy by Biella Coleman

Here’s a review by Paul Bernal.

Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free by Cory Doctorow

I’m currently reading Australia under Surveillance by Frank Moorhouse (thanks @JuliaPowles for the recommendation.)

If you’ve got some suggestions to add, do let me know.


From @PaulBernalUK

Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, by Nathaniel Tkacz  (and Bernal’s review)

From @JuliaPowles

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, by Nicholas Carr

The Internet is not the Answer, by Andrew Keen

From @Gazzy_D

The End of Absence, by Michael Harris

This Machine Kills Secrets, by Andy Greenberg

What I’ve already read ….

I’ve read and recommend —>

Rebecca Mackinnon’s Consent of the Networked,

Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide,

Rebecca Giblin’s Code Wars,

Mark Pearson’s Blogging and Tweeting without Getting Sued, which I’ve reviewed,

Nick Cohen’s You Can’t Read this Book

Tim Wu’s The Master Switch

Nate Anderson’s The Internet Police: How Crime Went Online, and the Cops Followed



Tech + law policy to-read list – suggestions welcome!

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology


Where to for copyright in 2015? First speakers for ADA Forum announced. | Australian Digital Alliance |

Ford Motor Company claims copyright over its list of car parts, tries to shut down independent repair tool. | EFF  |

Pho-to Fury: London restaurant told to ‘go f-ck yourself’ by Melbourne rival that allegedly stole its images. | Smart Company |

Canada: Rightscorp and BMG exploiting copyright notice-and-notice system: citing false legal information in payment demands. | Michael Geist |

Google asked to remove 345 million “pirate” links in 2014. | TorrentFreak |

US: Universal Music files copyright lawsuit over mixtapes sent to prisoners – “contraband personified”. | The Hollywood Reporter |  

Defamation, freedom of expression & media law

Tasmania moves to allow corporations to sue for defamation. | The Guardian |

David Miranda and the human rights black hole. | Newsweek |

Man wearing “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt among LNP campaigners arrested by 10 police in Brisbane. | Courier Mail |

Privacy & information security

Leaked European Parliament legal opinion on data retention. | Digital Rights Ireland |

Brandis and PwC no comment on 36-month data retention question and timing of consultation. | The Register |

Parliamentary Committee calls for contributions to data retention inquiry.  | APH |  Submissions due Monday 19 January.

My post on what’s missing from the government’s site on data retention. | MsLods |

Ai Weiwei is living in our future. Living under permanent surveillance and what that means for our freedom. | Medium |

These college roommates made six figures (in real money) recruiting Lyft users last year. | Fusion |

GCHQ’s ‘spook first’ program to train Britain’s most talented tech entrepreneurs. | The Independent |

Canadians upset with Romanian website that exposes court case details. | The Globe and Mail |

Netflix, Apple, Adobe. How geoblocks rip you off. | The Age |

Google, Facebook, eBay slam Australian ‘de facto internet filter’ (s 313 Telco Act).  | ZDNet |

Social media

“Around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online … .”. | The Independent |

Not Banksy: The real artist behind the iconic Charlie Hebdo pencil tribute. | Mashable |

With the power of social media growing, police now monitoring and criminalising online speech: Glenn Greenwald. | The Intercept |

 9 January 2015

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology


Where to for copyright in 2015? First speakers for ADA Forum announced:

Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia lifts photography ban on permanent collection. | Canberra Times |

Counting down the copyright top ten 2014. | Australian Digital Alliance |

Forced negotiations and industry codes won’t stop infringing downloads. | The Conversation |

The MPAA’s attempt to revive SOPA through a state Attorney-General. | Google Public Policy |

If Europe gets to see FTA text, why can’t we? | Australian Digital Alliance |

Project Goliath: Inside Hollywood’s secret war against Google. | The Verge |

MPAA considered pulling out of UK Copyright Alert Program. | Torrentfreak |

Paraphrasing Selma – copyright law and the re-writing of history. | Project DisCo |

Defamation, freedom of expression & media law

From the UK: the year in review – defamation, privacy & Google. | INFORRM |

Why tolerate police spies in our midst? writes Nick Cohen. | The Guardian |

Attempt to use data protection laws to stifle Guinea mine critic defeated. | The Guardian |

Musician turned rogue publisher hit with DMCA takedowns over Sony emails. | Ars Technica | 

Broadcaster Alan Jones ordered to pay $10,000 for racial vilification. | SMH |

Whistleblowing and the rule of law. | Lawyers Weekly |

Privacy & information security

The future of privacy. | Pew Research Internet Project |

The year governments struck back: seven things you need to know about privacy in 2014. | Privacy International |

When it comes to surveillance, there is everything to play for in 2015. | The Guardian |  Including in Australia —> Parliamentary Committee calls for contributions to data retention inquiry.  | APH |  Submissions due 19 January.

Note to data retention law makers: the Internet is not a telephone. | ZDNet |

Holes in metadata bill make it unacceptable: Professor George Williams. | The Age |

Metadata: most Australian police forces can’t say how many times it’s been used to prevent crime. | The Guardian |

Data retention hearings off to a nonsensical start. | Smart Company |

My post on what’s missing from the government’s site on data retention. | MsLods |

Burner phone? There’s an app for that. | Verge |

Why Ireland must protect Irish emails and internet usage from surveillance. | Irish Times |

Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches ‘epidemic proportions’. | The Independent |

Google has now ‘forgotten’ more than a quarter-million URLs. | The Washington Post |

The dark web: what it is, how it works, and why it’s not going away. | Vox |

How laws restricting tech actually expose us to greater harm: Cory Doctorow | Wired |

Social media

Inadvertent algorithmic cruelty & well, that escalated quickly.  On Facebook’s Year in Review. | Meyer Web |

The Troll Hunters – a feature essay by Adrian Chen. | Technology Review |

US: Judge – it’s okay for cops to create a fake Instagram account. | Ars Technica |

Australia Post caught over use of paid Instagram endorsements. | Mumbrella |

Facebook’s structure of compulsory happiness. | The Society Pages |

Facebook post costs ex-wife $12,000. | Herald Sun |

Perth magistrate removed from hearing matter after Googling litigant. | SMH |

2 January 2015

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology


US: Music publishers sue ISP Cox for not kicking people off the Internet.  | EFF |

In Google Books appeal, judges focus on profit and security. | Gigaom |

Danish court orders a UK company to block Danish IP addresses. | EDRi |

Copyright law as a tool for state censorship of the Internet. | EFF |

UK music industry seeks review of law allowing fans to copy music. | Guardian |

Blocking piracy websites is bad for Australia’s digital future. | The Conversation |

Defamation & media law

Dr Roland Von Marburg sues Facebook for defamation. | SMH |

Is Australia an emerging secret state? | JournLaw |

African court delivers landmark judgment on criminal libel. | MLDI |

Privacy & information security

UK: Investigatory Powers Tribunal rules GHCQ mass surveillance program TEMPORA is legal in principle. | Privacy International |

Government pulls bill to abolish Information Commissioner. | Open and Shut |

Boost for terror law monitor powers proposed in new Bill. | IT News |

Data retention bill fails scrutiny test. | IT News |

ASIC to lobby government for metadata access. | IT News |

Intelligence authorities ‘fail to understand data’, says ISP. | The Guardian |

My post on what’s missing from the government’s new site on data retention. | MsLods |

Want to know more about data retention? I’ve updated my “storify” on Australia’s controversial data retention bill:

Committee calls for contributions to data retention inquiry.  | APH |  Register intention to lodge a submission by 8 December. Submissions due 19 January.

Freedom on the Net Report 2014 | Freedom House |

Australians’ appetite for data & content continues to grow  – Communications Report 2013-14 | ACMA |  

Gregarious and direct China’s web doorkeeper. | New York Times |

Aussie bitcoin start up CoinJar moves to the UK. | Business Spectator |

Social media

Navigating the legal challenges of exploiting social media and user-generated content. | Attorney-General’s Office (UK) |

22 people had to sign off on Mitt Romney’s campaign tweets. | USA Today |

Twitter takes aim at trolls – and promises more. | Boing Boing |

Social networks face fines for failing to remove bullying content. | ZDNet |

Scotland laws down the law on social media crime and revenge porn. | Wired |

UK: Man jailed for WhatsApp ‘revenge porn’ after posting images of woman online. | Guardian |

7 December 2014

MsLods’ news round-up: law + technology

So what’s missing from the Australian government’s new website on data retention?

Last Friday, I stumbled across a new section of the Attorney-General Department’s  website “explaining” the government’s controversial data retention Bill.

And I found a few things missing …

Data retention does not provide new powers for agencies to access metadata. It simply obliges telecommunications companies to retain a limited set of records for two years

What’s missing?

  • There is little “simple” or “limited” about this proposal for mass surveillance of all Australians.  Just a few weeks ago, the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee was scathing in its criticism of the Bill.
  • It is not helpful to say the Bill proposes a “limited” set of data when the data is yet to be defined and will only be defined in Regulations.  Indeed, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee recommended the data set be defined in primary legislation itself and not left to Regulations.
  • The obligation is not simple or limited  when there is an express requirement in the Bill to create data when the service provider does not already capture data that falls within the (yet to be defined) data set. (See proposed section 187A(6) of the Bill).

More than 25 countries around the world have implemented data retention laws similar to those proposed by the Australian government

What’s missing?

  • Any mention of the fact that the EU Court of Justice ruled in April this year that the EU Data Retention Directive was invalid and …

entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data, without that interference being limited to what is strictly necessary

  • As Stilgherrian reported last week Australia’s data retention plans are looking increasingly out of touch.   “To say that the West is going the way of data retention is a serious misrepresentation.” (As I set out in a recent blog post)
  • Silicon Valley has been damaged by the Snowden revelations. Senator Wyden has made the case that the spying has hurt the American economy.
  • United Nations human rights expert concluded in a recent report that mandatory data retention “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications”, and therefore “it is incompatible with existing concepts of privacy for states to collect all communications or metadata all the time indiscriminately”.

International experience indicates that the cost of mandatory data retention schemes is small

What’s missing?

  • Well, any evidence …  In the UK, an impact assessment estimated that the cost of retaining IP addresses (not the whole data set) at nearly $50 million (AUD)
  • In 2010, Digital Rights Ireland reported:

    Several network operators said the need to invest in retention infrastructure had caused them to delay or abandon improvements to national networks.
    Deutsche Telekom claimed it had spent €5.2 million on implementation of retention infrastructure and €3.7 million a year to facilitate about 13,000 call data requests and 6,500 internet data requests. Other operators said they had spent in excess of €4 million setting up systems for providing access to stored data.

Warrants are typically reserved for the most intrusive powers, such as the power to use force to enter a home, to intercept phone calls, or to arrest a person. Many powers, including access to metadata, simply do not rise to that level.

What’s missing?

  • If “metadata” is not intrusive, why, as Josh Taylor has reported, won’t Senator Brandis provide access to his own communications data?
  • 11 countries in the EU require some form of judicial authorisation before access to “metadata” is provided.
  • Earlier this month, the Human Rights Committee recommended that a warrant should be required for “metadata” access.

Law enforcement and national security agencies suggest that a data retention period of two years is necessary to maintain our agencies’ investigative capabilities

What’s missing?

  • Retention periods typically are between 6 months and 12 months in the EU.
  • In the UK, for example, a 2011 report revealed that, over a 4 year period, 74%+ of disclosures to law enforcement agencies, where the age of data being sought was known, related to data that was less than 3 months old.

The government will reduce the number of agencies permitted to access metadata. Only agencies that have a clear need for such access and well-developed internal systems for protecting privacy, such as law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be able to access the data. Data must be reasonably necessary for the purposes of investigating criminal offences and other permitted purposes.

 What’s missing?

  • The Bill only limits the agencies that can automatically access metadata. It does not significantly limit the very broad range of agencies that can apply to access metadata (see proposed new clause s 176A). Proposed section 176A will allow a broad range of agencies ranging from ASIC to local councils and the RSPCA to apply for access to data.
  • There is no definition in the legislation about “well-developed internal systems for protecting privacy”.  The Minister is simply  to have regard to whether the agency who wants access to metadata is required to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles or a comparable scheme.  Just this week, the Attorney-General Department itself asked for return of improperly redacted submissions which revealed individual’s personal information.

Will data retention be used for copyright enforcement? The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 only allows access for limited purposes, such as criminal law enforcement matters. Breach of copyright is generally a civil law wrong. The proposed data retention regime does not change this in any way.

What’s missing?

  • If data is in the possession of a party it can be compelled to provide it to a litigant by coercive court processes such as discovery or subpoenas. As Ben Grubb has reported, data retention would be a “boon for private investigators” and lawyers acting for clients in a range of disputes.
  • The Australian Federal Police admitted that legislation for new mandatory data retention obligations on Australian telecommunications companies could be used to fight online copyright infringement.
  • The government will need ISPs to retain (source) IP addresses if it wants to introduce a notice scheme where ISPs are forced to police online copyright infringement.  Josh Taylor has reported on how film studios want to use data retention to crack down on piracy.

many member states have implemented the EU data retention directive by widening its scope and retaining data that was not retained in the past, often allowing it to be used for more purposes than outlined in the directive, such as for civil litigation on copyright in the UK. Such expansion is referred to as “mission creep” by privacy advocates.


Note: the above italicised extracts from the government’s new “explainer” on data retention can be found on the following pages:

Further resources:  commentary and analysis on Australia’s controversial data retention bill:





So what’s missing from the Australian government’s new website on data retention?